There are sights which immediately return you to your youth. Sounds also do it well, especially songs. A riff, or a beat, a particular harmony can take you back to any number of places and moods. For example, half a line of "Sunglasses at Night" by Corey Hart and I'm sobbing like a baby at the memory of Lyndal Roonan disappearing behind the lunch-sheds with someone other than me. Yep, that's all it takes. We've all felt it, let's be honest. It's universal.
Then there's the wonder of texture. Running my fingers across the back of a baby's neck immediately throws me back to my daughters' infant years. Just. Like. That.
Smell. Oh my, now there's a kicker. Perhaps it's our ancient pheremonic instincts stirring in their sleep. Wave talcum powder under the nose of a mother and watch her face change. A tub of axle-grease to my father. Hot chips or donuts, burgers, fresh-baked cakes, your grandmother's spare room. My primary school was a couple of hundred metres from the Weet-Bix factory. Open a packet anywhere near me and I'm immediately back in Class 5BH, wedged between Sniffler Graves and Jess Grece (who always smelt like sour milk, as I recall).
But one smell teleports me through time faster and more intact than any other - Brut 33. The slender dark-green bottle with the silver lid, the mind-bending sting searing through your face as you splash the stuff onto your bleeding cheeks. The head-throb and aching sinuses as you fumble through another furtive kiss. The Christmas gift pack of Brut 33 powder, aftershave and soap-on-a-rope. Ah, the memories.
I haven't opened a pack of Brut 33 in years. If you were to ask me to describe it right now, I wouldn't be able to. But tomorrow I think I'll wander down to K-Mart and get myself a bottle. No, I have no intention of wearing it - I simply plan to splash a little into my palm and enjoy being twenty years younger for a minute or two. I just hope I can get back safely.